malted “forever” brownies

We’ve made it to bake number 44 from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person. The latest recipe we tackled from the Bars & Cookies chapter of the book was a super decadent one—the Malted “Forever” Brownies.

Lauren’s Take

Hello hello! Finally we make it to the highly anticipated malted “forever” brownies!

Ever since Claire released the video of her making this recipe, I (as well as many other people in my life) have been excited for this recipe to come up. I’m not a huge chocolate fan, as you already know…but there’s something about a fudge-y, chewy brownie alongside a big glass a milk that I can get behind.

This is a very simple recipe—but takes a bit of time to get everything to cool as Claire instructs. Otherwise, it is a “throw everything into a bowl, mix it up, and bake” kind of recipe. The biggest challenge was finding this elusive malted milk powder. I had never heard of it before. My only experience with the word malt is beside the word liquor, but I knew that couldn’t be it. After many texts with Julia and some Googling, I discovered/was told that Ovaltine is malted milk, and my local grocery store had the specific non-chocolate flavoured, malted milk one! I was so excited when I got home from the store with this massive jar of malted milk…I became less excited when I realized we only need 2 tablespoons for the recipe. If anyone in the Ottawa region loves malted milk and would like a massive jar of Ovaltine, hit me up.

Anyways, in terms of the recipe, you mix cocoa powder with hot water, then add vegetable oil, butter, and semi-sweet chocolate, whisking until smooth. Then the brown and white sugars are added, along with eggs and vanilla. This makes a super smooth and shiny batter. Then the dry ingredients of flour, salt, and least we forget, malted milk powder are whisked in until combined. The rest of the chocolate is now mixed in. I used milk chocolate chips, rather than cutting up a bar.

The mixture is poured into a foil covered 8×8 metal pan and baked in the oven until the mixture is dry but still soft to the touch. After over-baking my cookies slightly last week, I was really nervous about doing the same with the brownies. After 25 minutes, the top felt dry but still looked a tad wet, so I left it for another minute or so and then took them out.

I did as instructed; I let them cool for 1 hour at room temperature in the pan, and then placed the pan in the fridge to cool for another hour. When I removed them the dough still felt quite soft and there were pieces in the centre that seemed really gooey. So I do think that I did under-bake them slightly. Either that, or I didn’t allow the brownies to cool long enough to allow the chocolate chip pieces to re-solidify? Not sure. Either way, after cutting I placed all the brownies back in the fridge overnight to firm up even more.

The next day, the brownies had some together better. They are SO chewy and fudge-y (which may be because they are undercooked but yolo). I added flaky salt on top, which I find really helps to balance the rich chocolate flavour. I don’t know if I taste malted milk per say, but I do think it adds to the creamy quality of the brownies for sure. Pretty solid brownie recipe I gotta say. If I do make them again though, I’d bake for longer. 4 stars!

Julia’s Take

I don’t think you’d find many people out there who say they don’t enjoy a good brownie. Although they aren’t in my regular rotation of baked goods, sometimes nothing hits better than a super chocolatey, decadent brownie. Claire calls these “forever” brownies because she claims they are the only brownie you’ll ever want to eat ever again. With this kind of hype, you can bet I was excited to give them a try.

Although Claire offers a few variations in the book (mint, nuts, whole grain), the original recipe is “malted” because it calls for the addition of malted milk powder. Apparently this is not as common or easy to find in Canada as it is in the US, and after searching high and low for this ingredient (grocery stores: nothing; bulk food stores: nothing; online: unavailable or ridiculously expensive), I came up empty handed. I’d heard from some fellow dessert people that Ovaltine can work as a decent substitute since there is malt in the ingredients; the recipe only called for 2 tablespoons’ worth so I figured for just that, Ovaltine should work just fine.

The batter comes together easily and quickly—such a nice turn of events with this chapter after a laborious summer making pies and tarts. The ingredients are what you’d expect—cocoa powder, but bloomed first with boiling water (apparently this makes the chocolate flavour really come through), butter, oil, semisweet chocolate, egg, vanilla, brown and granulated sugar, and then eventually AP flour, the Ovaltine in my case, and a touch of salt. Once the batter is whisked together, Claire calls for some roughly chopped pieces of milk chocolate to be folded in. I decided to use Maltesers instead of regular milk chocolate to ramp up the malt flavour.

The batter is poured in to an 8×8 baking dish lined with foil and the brownies bake for just under 30 minutes. Besides the addition of malt, the other distinguishing factor in Claire’s recipe is the rest time—1 hour in the pan and another hour in the fridge. She says this helps create a chewier texture.

These brownies were SO good and absolutely lived up to the hype. I definitely veer more towards a chewier vs. cakier brownie, so these were right up my ally. They are fudgy without being overwhelmingly sweet, and the Maltesers were absolutely the right call—you get that extra little hit of chocolate in every bite with a hit of that special malt flavour. I can see why you’d never want to have another brownie ever again. 5 stars for me again this week!

Next week, we’ll be baking up the Pistachio Pinwheels. See you then!

cinnamon sugar palmiers

It’s bake number 43 this week! The Bars & Cookies chapter of Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person got off to a bit of a shaky start, but boy oh boy has it stepped up over the last few weeks. This week, we made Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers!

Lauren’s Take

Happy Thanksgiving weekend everyone! Besides continuing to be thankful for my family, friendships, and the work I get to do every day, I have added something else to the list this year. This year, I am extremely thankful for rough puff pastry. I mean, the flakes, the butter, the way it is crunchy yet also melts in your mouth?! I don’t know about you, but I feel real lucky that rough puff has come into my life.

The bake for this week was the Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers. I had never made or tried palmiers before, but I was excited when I saw we’d be using rough puff pastry! I had a 1/2 recipe left from the summer when we made the Peach Melba Tart. My pastry had turned out so well that time, that I couldn’t wait to see it in action again!

Since I already had the pastry done from before, this was a super fast bake to organize. I left my pastry at room temperature to thaw out, and then placed it into the fridge until I was ready to bake. Then I made the cinnamon sugar. The recipe calls for Demerara sugar, but I only had dark brown sugar so I used that. You combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt to make the sugar mixture. Easy.

The rough puff is rolled out into a 12×10 inch rectangle. I placed some of the sugar underneath the pastry and then brushed egg wash all along the top of the dough. I then sprinkled and pressed about half of the sugar on top of the pastry, pushing it down with my rolling pin. I then rolled up the dough to make the palmiers.

I started by marking the middle of the dough and rolling each section tightly towards the centre, getting two identical (or at least decently identical…) rolls of dough. I then put the dough on its side and firmly pressed the two rolls together, brushed the outside the egg wash, sprinkled more sugar on the outside, wrapped the log in parchment paper, and placed it in the freezer for 20 minutes to firm up.

Once the dough felt firm but not frozen, I took it out of the freezer, cut off the edges of the log, and cut the rest into 16 equal pieces. The pieces of dough looked so beautiful with the swirled design and the dark cinnamon sugar! I laid each cookie onto the baking sheet, giving each one some room to grow, and baked!

I began to smell the cookies after about 15 minutes of baking. When I checked in the oven, there was definitely a lot of growth and caramelization of the sugar, but the dough didn’t quite look golden brown, as is indicated in the book, so I decided to leave them. I ended up baking for 25 minutes because I wasn’t getting the golden brown colour, which I think was too long. I didn’t burn the cookies, but it did seem that the sugar was over-caramelized. So, trust your nose!

I did this bake while watching Claire’s video on rough puff pastry where she makes these cookies. There were definitely some noticeable differences. Claire uses a different type of sugar, doesn’t do an egg wash, doesn’t freeze the dough before cutting, cooks them for a different amount of time…before these differences in videos versus the recipe used to stress me out and I would wonder what the right decision would be. Now, as I have become more confident in baking and trusting my instincts, I just take whatever advice I decide feels right in the moment. And I think that’s why Claire doesn’t sweat not following the recipe exactly either, because she sure does know her stuff.

I was ECSTATIC when I took these cookies out of the oven. First off, the dough puffed beautifully and the layers were unreal. Everyone I showed this cookie to, I kept incessantly pointing out how many layers there were because I was so proud. The cookie just looks so beautiful, it’s hard not to be impressed. In terms of taste, the dough was perfect—extremely flaky and buttery and baked well. The cookie tastes like the very center of a cinnamon bun, which in my opinion is the best part, so you can guess how I feel about the cookie. As I mentioned, my sugar tasted a bit over-caramelized in places, but overall this cookie was a hit for me. 5 stars!

Julia’s Take

Hi everyone and Happy Thanksgiving! I’m always thankful for so many things, and this year I can add this little baking community to the list. These sweet little cinnamon-y babies were the perfect fall flavour and an excellent bake for the holiday weekend.

I think we all know by now how I feel about Claire’s Rough Puff. Taking homemade puff pastry out of the oven and see all of those incredible little layers gives you a level of pride I have felt from few other things in my life. It truly never gets old!

Since I still had Rough Puff in the freezer from when I made the Peach Melba Tart a couple of months back, this was an extremely quick and easy bake. I took my pastry out of the freezer and let it thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours, then threw it into the fridge for the rest of the day. Once I was ready to bake, the pastry is rolled out into a rectangle, brushed with egg wash, and a mixture of demerara sugar (Claire’s all-time fave), cinnamon, and a pinch of salt gets sprinkled over the whole thing.

To create that signature palmier spiral, you need to roll the dough in towards the center from each side. The full log is brushed with egg wash and coated with the rest of the cinnamon sugar, making sure you are pressing the spirals together so keep things nice and tight. This is a simple enough technique, but for some reason I was a bit of a hot mess doing this. My pastry was starting to become VERY warm and soft, and the cinnamon sugar kept sticking to my hands. I was really worried by spirals were too loose but tried my best to get the mushy disaster of a “log” rolled in to the parchment paper and put it in the freezer to firm up as per Claire’s instructions, crossing my fingers that it would hold together well enough to bake.

I wasn’t thrilled with the shape of my “log” even after 25 minutes in the freezer, but it was firm enough to cut so I just went with it. Luckily, as I started to slice the roll into cookies, you could see the little spiral shape. I tried my best to re-spiral the cookies that had some slightly undone and pressed everything together as I went along. I love a recipe that’s forgiving enough to tweak and salvage as you go.

The cookies were spread out on a cookie sheet and baked for about 25 minutes. There are few things more comforting than the smell of cinnamon, especially on a cold, rainy, fall day. Even though the palmier spirals weren’t quite as tight as I was hoping for, my pastry puffed up beautifully and I was thrilled to see those beautiful little layers. One of the best things about the palmiers is how the brown sugar mixture caramelizes along the bottom while they bake.

The whole thing is just a dream combo of textures—sugary, crispy, flaky, buttery deliciousness! Such a simple, wonderful way to use leftover pastry. It’s another 5-star bake for me.

Coming up next week: Malted Forever Brownies! Wishing all of our Canadian friends a very Happy Thanksgiving!

chocolate chip cookies

Good morning everyone and welcome back! This week, we’re continuing on with the Bars & Cookies chapter and bringing you our 42nd bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert PersonChocolate Chip Cookies. A true classic, and a recipe we’ve been looking forward to trying since we got the book!

Lauren’s Take

A 5-star bake! Check back for updates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julia’s Take

When I was in university, one of my roommates’ moms made the BEST chocolate chip cookies in the entire world. Every time she would go visit home for the weekend, she’d come back with a margarine tub full of them and they would usually disappear within 24 hours. No CCC recipe has ever come close for me; I requested a copy years later, have made them myself, and they’ll always be super special and comforting to me.

That said, I was excited to try Claire’s version. I have heard nothing but rave reviews of this chocolate chip cookie recipe for months now, and even before baking you can understand why: brown butter, big chunks of TWO different kinds of chocolate (milk and dark), a long chilling time to get that perfect chewy texture. It’s not hard to see how these cookies are an easy slam dunk, and I was definitely not disappointed.

I made these cookies over the course of two days. Ultimately, it’s a really simple recipe and doesn’t take long to prepare or bake, but I knew the dough was going to have to chill in the fridge for a good stretch of time and wanted to break things up for myself.

Step one was browning the butter—something that is quickly becoming one of my new favourite activities (something only someone who is baking through an entire cookbook right now would ever say…). There’s just something about that nutty aroma you get as the butter sizzles away and the milk solids start to foam and float away that is so comforting and satisfying. One half the butter is browned, it is poured into a bowl with the other half of the butter, which has been sliced into thin pieces.

The rest of the batter comes together with all the usual suspects: whisk a combination of brown and granulated sugar into the cooled butter, add a couple of eggs and some vanilla extra, and then add in your dry ingredients (AP flour, baking soda, and some salt). Once the batter is combined, the chocolate is folded in. Claire’s recipe calls for chocolate discs vs. chocolate chips (because why use chips or even standard chunks when you can be super extra and bougey and use discs? Classic Claire); the other signatures here are that half the discs are roughly chopped and the other half are left whole, and you use a combination of milk and semi-sweet or dark chocolate. This combination of textures and flavours is stellar—chocolate runs through the entire cookie without being overwhelmingly sweet.

After the batter comes together, the cookies are scooped out onto a cookie sheet—a whole 2-ounce or quarter-cup sized scoop per cookie. Monstrous! But I guess if you’re going to have a cookie, HAVE A COOKIE. I let my balls of cookie dough sit in the fridge wrapped tightly in plastic wrap for the recommended minimum 12 hours. The dough tasted unreal, so I was pretty pumped about baking the next day.

The next morning, I was ready to go. The cookies are spread out further onto a baking sheet and bake for about 25 minutes. They spread out quite a bit while baking, and the baking soda gives you those signature wrinkled edges.

The results were just as delicious as I expected them to be! These cookies are the dream combination of crispy edges and chewy centre. The depth of flavour you get from the brown butter and the two types of chocolate and the combo of chocolate textures is just genius. I shared these cookies with some friends, and everyone was messaging me the rest of the week asking if I still had any left. A huge hit, a new favourite that I’ll be making again and again, and absolutely a 5-star bake for me!

Next week, we’ll be busting out the Rough Puff again to make Cinnamon Sugar Palmiers! See you then.

brown butter and sage sablés

Happy Sunday! We’re back with our 41st bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person as we continue to make our way through the Bars & Cookies chapter. This week, we made Brown Butter and Sage Sablés!

Lauren’s Take

Happy fall everyone! This week we’re coming at you with another cookie recipe, and I gotta say, this one did not disappoint.

After not enjoying last week’s bake, I was nervous to once again combine savoury flavours in a sweet cookie. I also had never worked with sage before and was interested to see how the flavour would play out. But once I read “brown butter” in the title, I knew that this was probably going to be delicious! I mean, when has brown butter ever failed you in your life?

The cookies this week are called “sablés” which is a French shortbread-like cookie. Sablé means “sandy,” so the idea is to have a cookie with less sugar and more butter, in order to make something less sweet that melts in your mouth.

In general, making shortbread is super simple, but for this recipe, there were a few things that added some complexity. First, you have to make the sage brown butter, which requires a lot of patience and instinct. You heat the butter with the sage leaves and steams over low heat, until the butter foams and the leaves crisp up; this took about 10 minutes for me. You then remove the sage (saving it on a plate for later) and pour the butter into a bowl to chill COMPLETELY until it starts to firm up once again. This took a lot longer than I thought it was going to. In total, to get the butter back to a firmer, but not hard, consistency, I left it for about 35-40 minutes. Claire warns not to rush this process or to let the butter become too firm, as it will affect the milk solids in the butter.

Once the butter is ready, you cream it with sugar and lemon zest (classic Claire move), using the stand mixer. Once pale, you add egg yolks and vanilla and then add the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Once the dough comes together in the mixer, you separate it into two equal portions and create two logs of dough. The dough isn’t dry, per say, but it does have a crumbly texture to it. I used Claire’s technique to form the logs, which involved putting the dough on parchment paper and using a bench scraper to force it into shape. The two logs are wrapped in parchment paper and then plastic wrap and left to chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours (mine stayed in for closer to 4).

While my dough was chilling, I made the sage sugar for the outside of the cookie. You take half of the reserved, crispy sage leaves and crumble them into brown sugar. This mixture will coat the outside of the cookies.

Once the dough is ready, you roll the logs in the sugar, and cut each log into about 18 equal discs. Full disclosure, I found the sugar didn’t stick very well when I rolled it, so I patted it on throughout. And my logs weren’t the most round shape, so I had some funky looking discs, but it all worked out. When cutting, the dough was definitely easy to slice, but did keep its shape!

The discs are placed on a baking sheet and baked for 20-25 minutes (mine took 22), until the outer edge starts to become golden brown. You let the cookies cool completely on the baking sheets before removing.

These cookies are SO well balanced. The lemon is not overpowering but adds a perfect kick to the sweetness of the sugar. And the brown butter and sage flavours add an amazing depth to the cookie as well.

I love the texture of the sablé and the little crunch the sugar on the outside adds. The sablés are so incredibly light and melt in your mouth, but hold so much flavour! It’s an excellent cookie and I know they’re gonna be a showstopper at Christmas! 5 stars from this baker!

Julia’s Take

Go figure that what’s supposed to be one of the simpler bakes in the book—and something I’ve made a bunch of times before (shortbread cookies)—caused me the most trouble I’ve had so far. This bake took me on a ride!

The process itself has a few fancy additions to Claire-ify it, of course, and some waiting time but otherwise it couldn’t have been simpler. I started off by melting two sticks of butter with the fresh sage until it started to brown (is there anything that smells better than browned butter?!); the sage is removed and set aside and the butter then cools until it’s starting to solidify but isn’t completely solid. I think (but can’t be sure) that this is where I went wrong. My butter was potentially a little TOO solid, which messed with the texture of the dough, but ultimately it remains a bit of a mystery.

Regardless, the cooled butter is mixed with sugar, egg yolks, vanilla, lemon zest, and eventually the dry ingredients (AP flour, cornstarch, salt) until a dough forms. My dough at this point was absolutely too dry, and I should have trusted my instincts, but I know it can be a fine line with shortbread—you don’t want the dough TOO dry or the cookies won’t form properly, but you also don’t want it too wet or you won’t get that soft, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth texture that shortbread is known for. Since I had seemingly done nothing wrong in the 3 simple steps it took to make this dough, I decided to just go with it, formed my dough into two logs like Claire instructs in the recipe, wrapped them in parchment and plastic wrap, and let them sit in the fridge for two hours. It was definitely a little tough to get the dry mixture to form into a log, but ultimately it seemed to be holding OK, and I figured some time in the fridge would do the trick.

I was wrong. After waiting two hours, I took my logs out to slice the cookies and ended up with a huge, crumbly disaster all over my kitchen counter. The cookies would just not hold their shape no matter how thick I tried to make the cookies. At this point, it was pretty late and I was out of sage and completely defeated by the fact that I’d just spent months and months constructing the most complex and beautiful pies and tarts but somehow couldn’t master a simple shortbread cookie—so I called it for the day, determined to try again tomorrow.

The next morning, I hit up the grocery store for some more sage and went in for round two. I followed all the same steps, but sent multiple videos to Lauren of my cooled brown butter to get her intel on whether I was letting is solidify too much vs. not enough. Once I felt satisfied with where the congealed butter was it, I moved on to the other steps. After mixing the dough together, I could already tell the difference between this batch and the first; while the dough was still dry-ish, it felt more like a dough and held its shape so much better. I was optimistic!

Fast forward two hours in the fridge, and I was able to cut the logs into cookies with zero trouble. Yay! Each log is coated in a blend of demerara sugar (Claire’s fave) and the crumbled reserved sage that had been fried in the butter. This leaves a ring of sweet, crackly deliciousness around each cookie.

My cookies baked for about 20 minutes and man oh man am I ever glad I decided to try again because these babies were SO GOOD. Sage in a dessert can sound strange because it can be such a prominent savoury flavour, but it just works sooooo well in this recipe. The depth of flavour from the herb plus the brown butter and the little hit of lemon zest is amazing, and the texture is just perfect. A bit of a rollercoaster, but totally worth the ride. 5 stars from me!

Next week, we’re taking on an absolute classic: Chocolate Chip Cookies!

salted halvah blondies

We’ve reached out 40th bake from Claire Saffitz’s Dessert Person—can you believe it?! We’re getting closer and closer to the halfway point. Wow! This latest recipe from the Bars and Cookies chapter was for Salted Halvah Blondies, which used some unique ingredients and had us a bit torn on the results.

Lauren’s Take

I can’t lie friends, I’m really enjoying these one page bakes. You look at the ingredient list in the morning, pick up a few things, and are able to bake within an hour without any extreme form of pre-planning whatsoever…I mean?! As a very low maintenance person, I’ve been a big fan of cookies so far.

What I will say, regrettably, is I was not a fan of this bake at all. I already was going into it a little skeptical. Don’t get me wrong, I love tahini and mid-eastern flavours, but on a dessert? I was a bit thrown to start.

What was cool about this bake was being exposed to some new flavours and ingredients, specifically Halva. Halva is a Turkish candy type thing! Quite crumbly and sweet and comes in a bunch of cool flavours! I went to the Mid-East Food Centre in Ottawa (such a clutch grocery store), and found everything I needed for this bake! I decided to get pistachio flavoured halvah because yolo.

 

The bake itself comes together very easily: mix the dry ingredients, mix the wet, and then combine. The wet ingredients portion of the recipe is a base of melted white chocolate, tahini, brown sugar, and eggs, with the halvah and dry ingredients gently folded in. The mixture becomes a super sticky and kind of firm (?) batter, that is spread into the pan, topped with sesame seeds and flaky salt and then baked.

The recipe warned not to overtake the blondies as to not dry them out, so I baked for 21 minutes. My edges were golden brown and the centre still wobbled like I was instructed. I let it cool, removed from the pan, and cut them into bars and the inside did not look cooked. It still looked kind of gummy like the batter was, but the rest was a golden brown colour? That was where my confusion started. Then I took a bite and my mouth was confused. I felt like I was chewing hummus but then I would get a hit of sweetness.

I love the idea of the flavours and the attempt at the combination, but this girl was not a fan and neither were a few taste testers. But hey, one dessert being not great out of the 40 we’ve made ain’t bad. I give it 1 star unfortunately.

Julia’s Take

I have such mixed emotions over this bake, and I’m still trying to sort out exactly how I feel about this recipe. First off, I should say that I’m not the biggest blondie fan. While I do like vanilla-flavoured anything, as well as brown sugar, I tend to find them a little overwhelmingly sweet most of the time. I was optimistic that the addition of sesame in various forms, which tends to be a savoury ingredient, would help mellow this out—and I’m assuming that was part of Claire’s thought process when she was developing this recipe (could be completely wrong about that one, but sounds legit).

As much as I miss the challenges and amazing results from the Pies and Tarts chapter, it has already been SUCH a nice break to be baking one-page bar and cookie recipes. I’ve gotten in to the habit of really coordinating my time/schedule around a Dessert Person bake, knowing it will take at least a full day to prepare my various components, and so I’ve found myself putting off the last couple of bakes wondering when I’ll have time to get to them. Then, I finally open the book and start getting ready, and within half an hour I’m all baked up and good to go. What?! How can it be? I’m convinced I’ve done something wrong because it feels too easy, and then I remember we’re in brand new territory now. I’ll take it!

This one was super simple. The dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking powder) are mixed together in a bowl. The wet ingredients (white chocolate, butter, tahini) are melted down and combined over a double boiler, and then the brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla are whisked in. Then you gently fold in the dry ingredients and the signature ingredient for this bake—some crumbled halvah. I’d never heard of halvah before coming to this recipe; I learned it’s a Middle Eastern confection that is often sesame based but comes in a variety of different flavours. It sort of looks like firm tofu and crumbles up in a similar way. I wasn’t able to find any in the stores in North Bay, but tracked some down online.

The batter felt more like a dough to me in many ways—it was thick and sort of really held together as you folded it, rather than moving loosely like a liquid would. I love the beautiful, rich golden brown colour it became as I combined all of the ingredients and there was no mistaking the smell of the sesame. Once the batter was spread evenly into the pan, the whole thing is sprinkled with sesame seeds and some flaky sea salt, and then into the oven it goes. The recipe says to bake for 20-25 minutes; I went with the full 25 and they were fully baked through but not dry.

Ultimately, I’m just not sure how I felt about the taste. I did like it—the balance of sweet and savoury was what I was hoping would be achieved with this flavour combination. I didn’t find it veered too much in one direction vs. the other. I really love sesame, so that appealed to me, and the little flecks of salt you get once in a while were perfect. But I just didn’t find myself dying to grab another one. I don’t think I could eat more than one at once, and I think that’s just because the flavour profile was so distinct. I definitely did enjoy the taste and texture though, so I would give this bake 3 stars overall!

Coming up next week: Brown Butter and Sage Sables!  

marcona almond cookies

It’s Bars and Cookies time! A brand new chapter of Claire’s Saffitz’s Dessert Person, and we’re kicking it all off with our 39th bake from the book, the Marcona Almond Cookies.

Lauren’s Take

Hello! With the feeling of fall and a new season in the air, so comes pending excitement of the holiday season and Christmas baking!

The very well-timed and completely unintentional benefits of baking this book in order is that we have started the “Cookies and Bars” chapter during the fall which means lots of already prepped Christmas baking! (I’ve already started to set aside some room in my freezer). My plan is to save about 6-8 cookies from each recipe for the holidays and have the most diverse and impressive spread my family has ever seen (until they go to Julia’s house which will have the same spread).

The chapter starts off with a simple, quick and familiar recipe—Almond Cookies! For the life of me, I could not find the Marcona almonds Claire asks for in the book, so I just chose to use regular almonds instead. These almond cookies, or at least a version of them, are a staple at any Italian holiday, ceremony or large gathering, so it was fun to make something I have such fond memories of.

 

It was so refreshing going from multi-step, multi-page, multi-freakout bakes, to a one-pager where you just mix everything and then bake. You simply put almonds, almond paste (which I made myself again), salt, sugar, vanilla, and eggs in the food processor and combine together. You then put the sticky mixture into a piping bag, and pipe out 24 1.5 inch diameter cookies on a baking sheet. The cookies are brushed over with egg yolk, and an almond is then placed in the centre of each. Then pop ‘em in the oven for 10-12 minutes (mine took 11 to be exact) and there ya have it!



These cookies are chewy and have a great almond flavour if that’s your thing. Simple, fast and delicious, but nothing over the top amazing about them. I give them a 3! (And yes, 6-8 of them are happily sitting in my freezer awaiting the holiday season).

Julia’s Take

 

After a pretty technical and challenging chapter working through Pies and Tarts and learning about so many different types of dough, pastry, mousses, creams, caramels, crumbles, and more, it feels nice to be moving on to this new chapter which, I’m sure will have its learning moments as well, but is sure to be a bit more straightforward and less time-consuming than the last few months have been!

We definitely got off on a very easy foot with the Marcona Almond Cookies. The whole process took maybe 40 minutes max, and that’s being generous. It’s also taking into account the fact that I made the almond paste myself, like I did for the Quince Tart a few weeks ago. If I hadn’t had to do that, these cookies could have probably been fully prepared and baked in 25 minutes or less.

 

Since the process was so simple, there isn’t a whole lot to say! Everything comes together in the food processor; I made the almond paste first—which is just a combination of almond flour, powdered sugar, salt, egg white, and almond extract—and since almond paste was just going right into the cookie dough, I didn’t even have to bother with cleaning the equipment before moving on to the next step. Less dishes is always a big win for me!

The dough is almost like more of a thick batter in my opinion, and is a combination of blitzed up almonds (the recipe clearly calls for the Marcona variety, which are supposed to be a bit richer and fattier, but I couldn’t find any so I went with regular blanched almonds to at least have a similar look), the almond paste, sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract. It blends up smoothly in the food processor within a couple of minutes, and then you can form your cookies. Claire says you can use a pastry bag to pipe them, or just use a regular scoop; again, I’m all about minimizing the clean up, and pastry bags can be such a pain, so since I was feeling particularly lazy when making these cookies, I just used a tablespoon and scooped out my cookies into relatively uniform little mounds.

Each cookie gets a bit of an egg wash on top, and then an almond is pressed into the centre before they bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Could literally not be easier. Part of me felt like I was cheating out of a bake and couldn’t possibly have done all I needed to because I’ve become so accustomed to long wait times, multiple techniques and components, and frantically checking the oven to see if something is going according to plan.

The cookies weren’t anything life-changing, and I didn’t expect them to be, but they were still a delicious little treat. They’re very similar to an Italian almond cookie called Amaretti which we grew up having in our family; they’re a staple at weddings, and our mom will often make them at Christmas or for other special occasions as well. They have a great chewy texture just like Claire’s cookies, and the almond flavour really comes through. Overall, I’d give this bake 3 stars and am excited to get going on this new chapter of the book!

Coming up next week: Salted Halvah Blondies!